OL coach Cody Kennedy leaving Arkansas for SEC West team
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas football offensive line coach Cody Kennedy is officially parting ways with the Razorbacks for an SEC West foe.
Mississippi State football confirmed on Friday afternoon that Kennedy will be the Bulldogs' next offensive line coach for first-year head coach Jeff Lebby. The Razorbacks will now be looking for a new man to coach the o-line for new offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino.
Kennedy moving on marks the second departure for the 2023 staff, as he joins former offensive coordinator Dan Enos, who was fired on Oct. 22 following a 7-3 loss to Mississippi State.
The move comes two days after the hiring of new offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino, and after the Hogs allowed 47 sacks this season, which ranks 124th in the country and last in the SEC.
On top of that, Arkansas finished the year with the 88th overall rushing offense in the nation after averaging just 140.1 yards per game this season.
With two Preseason All-SEC Second-Team offensive linemen in Beaux Limmer and Brady Latham on the roster heading into the year, the Razorbacks' offensive line was expected to be average at-worst for Arkansas head coach and offensive line guru Sam Pittman.
Instead, Limmer's move to center didn't pay off and Latham took a step back at left guard. Left tackle was a revolving door for most of the year, as Andrew Chamblee and Devon Manuel rotated in and out mainly due to injuries.
As for the right side, Florida transfer Joshua Braun and sophomore Patrick Kutas held down the guard and tackle positions for the majority of the season, respectively.
According to Pro Football Focus, Arkansas finished the 2023-24 campaign with a run block grade of 64.1 and a pass block grade of 60.6.
Out of all SEC offensive linemen with at least 200 snaps, Chamblee ranks 88th (out of 89) in pass block with a PFF grade of 41.0 and 74th in run block grade with a 55.0. Kutas ranks 83rd in pass block grade with a 47.8 and 72nd in run block grade with a 56.3.
Though Kennedy's offensive line struggled last season, he did coach a unit that helped lead the way for the No. 7 rushing attack in the country (236.5) in 2022-23 and 2021-22 (227.8).
Those units also allowed fewer sacks, as starting quarterback KJ Jefferson was sacked 2.31 times per game in 2022-23 and 2.38 times per game in 2021-22.
Arkansas must work to fill the offensive line coach vacancy quickly, as the Razorbacks are prioritizing recruiting offensive linemen in the NCAA transfer portal according to Pittman.
"Well, you’ve got to go in the portal," Pittman said after the loss to Missouri. "I look back at Auburn coming in here, I think 4 of their 5 were from the portal and I think 7 of their top-8 o-linemen were transfers. There’s an opportunity to do that, and we’ve got to get better with the ones that we have here, as well.
"You don’t have to be a football coach to know that we need help, so we have to go and address that and that will be our no. 1 place to address because without that you really can’t have a lot of success offensively, and with that you can have a whole bunch of success. We’ve got to get it fixed, and that’s nothing negative about the kids we have, we just have to get that one fixed. I think everybody knows that."
2021 Broyles Award – Semifinalist
Cody Kennedy leads Arkansas’ offensive line for the third season heading into 2023.
The 2022 Razorbacks’ offense was one of the best in school history with Kennedy’s offensive line paving the way for 6,128 yards – the second-most in Arkansas history. The Hogs were particularly strong in the run game, averaging 236.7 yards per game and crossing the 3,000-yard mark for just the 10th time in school history. The team’s 3,077 yards were the most since the legendary Darren McFadden’s Arkansas team set the school record with 3,725 yards in 2007. The offense produced a pair of 600-yard games in wins over BYU and Kansas and set the school record for first downs in a single season with 311.
The veteran offensive line was led by center Ricky Stromberg, who became the fourth Razorback to earn the Jacobs Blocking Trophy given annually to the SEC’s top offensive lineman. Stromberg was flanked by guards Brady Latham and Beaux Limmer and tackles Luke Jones and Dalton Wagner. Stromberg was named an honorable mention All-American by Pro Football Focus while earning First-Team All-SEC honors from the Associated Press, the league’s coaches, PFF and USA Today. He was drafted in the third round of the NFL Draft by Washington, making him the highest drafted Arkansas offensive lineman since Frank Ragnow was taken in the first round by Detroit in 2018. Latham extended his streak to a team-best 36 straight starts in the win over Kansas at the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, the same game that saw Limmer move his streak to 24 consecutive games when he got the nod at center. Wagner earned First-Team All-SEC from PFF and second-team honors from the AP, ending his career as a team captain with 40 starts before signing as an undrafted free agent with Las Vegas.
Kennedy’s impact on the men up front was immediately noticeable as the Hogs turned into one of the most physical teams in the league and led the SEC in rushing – ranking second in all of FBS – with 227.8 yards per game in 2021. The offensive line helped pave the way for 2,961 yards rushing. The 2021 Razorbacks were an evenly distributed ground force with four different players rushing for over 500 yards, a feat that had not been accomplished at Arkansas since 1975. The Razorbacks’ rushing attack was led by QB KJ Jefferson, who ran for 664 yards. The offensive line also protected the quarterback better in 2021, allowing fewer sacks (30) than in 2020 (34) despite playing three more games.
Center Ricky Stromberg anchored the line, earning second-team All-SEC honors from the Associated Press and third-team accolades from Phil Steele and PFF. Beaux Limmer was named to PFF’s All-SEC Second Team and Phil Steel’s fourth team. Following the season Myron Cunningham participated in the East-West Shrine Bowl and NFLPA Bowl. Kennedy’s offensive line as a whole was also noticed as a semifinalist for the Joe Moore Award, given annually to the nation’s best offensive line.
Kennedy was originally being hired to coach the Razorbacks’ tight ends following a brief stint at Southern Miss during the 2020 offseason as the team’s run game coordinator and offensive line coach but took over the offensive line for Head Coach Sam Pittman during the summer of 2021.
Kennedy joined Southern Miss head coach Will Hall in Hattiesburg after spending the 2019 and 2020 seasons working with Hall, then Tulane’s offensive coordinator, as the Green Wave’s offensive line coach. Kennedy helped Tulane establish one of nation’s premier rushing offenses, ranking inside the FBS top 20 in each of his two seasons in New Orleans.
In 2020, Tulane scored 32 touchdowns on the ground, tied for seventh-most in the nation, and ranked 17th nationally averaging 217.1 rushing yards per game, leading the American Athletic Conference in rushing for the second straight year. Kennedy helped guide Tulane to its second bowl berth in as many seasons, mentoring offensive linemen Corey Dublin and Sincere Haynesworth to All-AAC Second Team recognition.
The Green Wave produced a school-record 3,162 rushing yards in Kennedy’s first season in 2019, ranking second in program history in rushing yards per game (243.2), rushing touchdowns (33) and rushing first downs (166). Nationally, Tulane placed 11th in rushing yards per game and 15th in total rushing yards. Dublin was named All-AAC Honorable Mention at the year’s end.
Kennedy spent the 2018 season as a graduate assistant at Georgia, working under Arkansas Head Coach Sam Pittman who was the offensive line coach at UGA. The Bulldogs ran for 238.8 yards per game, the best mark in the SEC and 16th-best nationally, earning a top-10 ranking in the final AP Poll.
From 2016-17, Kennedy served his second stint at West Georgia as offensive line coach. The Wolves ranked inside Division II’s top 50 in total offense (418.2), rushing offense (182.8 ypg) and first down offense (283) and registered a 9-4 record. Four of his offensive linemen earned All-Gulf South Conference honors while center Harley Vaughan and tackle Austin Kastl were both named All-Americans.
In 2016, Kennedy worked as Hall’s offensive line coach and helped West Georgia to a 7-4 record. Prior to that season, Kennedy was the offensive line coach at UNC Pembroke and assisted the Braves to a 6-4 record, a four-win improvement from the previous season.
As West Georgia’s offensive line coach in 2014, the Wolves went 12-4 and advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals. Kennedy oversaw a unit that paved the way for a league-leading 226.6 rushing yards per game (20th nationally) and 34 touchdowns (T-13th nationally).
Kennedy spent 2012-13 as a graduate assistant at West Alabama where he helped lead the Tigers to a pair of Gulf South Conference titles, a postseason appearance and a 17-7 record. The Tigers led the league (18th nationally) in rushing offense (225.1 yards/game) in 2012, and ranked 20th, nationally, in rushing offense in 2013.
Kennedy played offensive line at Southeastern Louisiana from 2008-11 and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in physical education. He later earned a master’s degree in teaching physical education from West Alabama in 2014.
The Kennedy Profile
Birthplace: Norfolk, Va.
High School: Florence HS – Florence, Ala.
College: Southeastern Louisiana, 2012 B.S. Physical Education; West Alabama, 2014 M. Ed Teaching Physical Education
2012-13 West Alabama (Graduate Assistant, Offensive Line)
2014 West Georgia (Offensive Line)
2015 UNC Pembroke (Offensive Line)
2016-17 West Georgia (Offensive Line)
2018 Georgia (Graduate Assistant)
2019-20 Tulane (Offensive Line)
2020 Southern Miss (Run Game Coordinator/Offensive Line)
2021-pres. Arkansas (Offensive Line)
2008-11 Southeastern Louisiana